Rumors had been rife throughout the OC.net-dom of the potential winner for the February 2008 Post of the Month! The populace was gathered under the OC.net palace balcony when the Forum Administrator FrChris came out into the warm sunshine bestowed upon this occason. With great fanfare he began his speech:
"With all of the posts given to us, we truly had a great debate and hard choices ot make. However, this is an example of fine postmanship, and have duly conferred upon GreekChef the honors incumbent with being a Post of the month winner! The post in question is reply 17 of this thread:
I'm just going to echo what some others have said here...
My own belief about the commandment to honor one's father and mother, I take NOT to mean "obey" (obeying does not always honor them), and I take not to mean "allow them to walk all over you and psychologically damage your family and allow their spouses to do something terrible to your children." I take the commandment to mean honor them by your actions. In other words, do them honor by being the best child of God that you can, by loving them (but not being their victim), and by praying for them.
I'm reminded of a story that Kyriacos C. Markides tells in his book The Mountain of Silence (a fabulous read, by the way). I'm going to attempt to paraphrase, as the book itself is packed away in a box somewhere. Please, anyone feel free to correct me if I am telling the story incorrectly.
There was a monk whose spiritual father was terribly abusive of him, though he was a pious man, righteous, humble, who loved God (substitute your mil and step-fil here for spiritual father). The spiritual father was verbally, emotionally abusive of the monk for years. Once, when a fellow monk asked him how things were going with his spiritual father, the monk implied that the spiritual father was abusive and difficult. At that very moment, as a consequence of speaking ill of his spiritual father, he felt the grace of God leave him. Then, when the spiritual father passed away, the monk had dreams in which he had visions of his spiritual father suffering greatly as a result of his actions. The monk felt terrible, not wanting his spiritual father to be condemned, for even though his spiritual father was difficult and abusive, he loved him enough to not want him to suffer in hell. So he began to pray for his soul. He prayed for years, and in his dreams, the more he prayed, the more his visions changed and he saw his spiritual father moving closer and closer to heaven. Finally, he prayed so fervently for the soul of his spiritual father that he did see him reach paradise.
I tell you this story to illustrate a couple of points. First, I tell you NOT to illustrate that you should just take their abuse no matter what. Turning the other cheek is one thing, subjecting your children to harm is another. It would be different if the children were not part of the equation. Then maybe you could try to reach out to her and help her. But your FIRST obligation is as a mother, not a daughter (IMHO-- although most psychologists would agree with me, I think), and as a mother you MUST protect your children. There's no question in my mind that you cannot subject your children to her abuse, and you certainly cannot subject them to her husband (the sexual predator).
Rather, I tell you this story to illustrate that the way to honor them (again, IMHO), is to love them (but not necessarily like them), and to pray for them. I do believe that we have an obligation to love and pray for those who abuse and revile us. Christ Himself tells us that. And I do believe that we have to strive, no matter how bad the abuse, to not compound our own sin by hating the abuser, and by not praying for them. That is our sin, and is on our shoulders. The story illustrates the power of prayer, which seems to be what she needs most. Feel sorry for her, for the situation she has put herself in, her seeming inability to cope with reality, and her refusal to change her situation. Just feel sorry and love her and pray for her. But don't subject your children to her.
I am a fervent fan of professional counseling, as well as pastoral counseling from one's spiritual father. I would say it doesn't seem that she is willing or ready to participate in something like that, but maybe by God's grace, through your prayers, she will be eventually. In the meantime, I would DEFINITELY limit contact with her, if you allow any at all.
My belief is this: You honor your parents by protecting your children. You honor them by showing love and praying for those who curse you and abuse you. Personally, I would say that you would NOT honor them by allowing them to continue to abuse you, as it is an unhealthy situation that does nothing but perpetuate sin and hurt on the part of all parties involved.
I pray that what I have said helps you, and that you will forgive me if I have compounded your hurt with my words. Please know that I am not judging you at all, just trying to help, and know that you and your family are in my prayers. I have a friend who is special needs, and I have been her only consistent friend since we were in first grade, the others have abandoned her. I know how difficult it can be as a friend, I can't imagine how difficult it must be as a parent, and I'm sure it has compounded the situation for both you and your husband exponentially. Again, you are all in my prayers.
Pray for me a sinner,
The crowd, stunned at these developments, suddenly realized the grandeur that was unfolding in front of them, and they responded with a loud cry:AXIA! AXIA! AXIA!